How Susan Itzkowitz Helped Take Marc Fisher Footwear From Startup to Major Shoe Player

Every day in June, FN is highlighting female leaders from across the industry.

Longtime shoe exec Susan Itzkowitz knew she was taking a risk 15 years ago when she joined forces with Marc Fisher to launch a new shoe venture. But the move paid off, and the company continues to expand its reach. Here, Itzowitz sounds off on cultivating a strong culture and shares her advice for women negotiating a difficult situation at work.

Can you name a powerful leadership moment you have experienced?

“Fifteen years ago, I took a risk and launched Marc Fisher Footwear with Marc and a very small group of people — it is what one would call a start-up today. While risk-taking in your career can be a difficult decision, it was the best and most rewarding career decision that I ever made. I am proud of the work we have done together over the past 15 years. We have grown our start-up into a great company that is passionate about our product and about our people. By design, we have created a supportive culture that focuses on developing and mentoring our employees while delivering great product to the marketplace.”

What are the biggest challenges for the generation of women behind you?

“I believe that the next generation will continue to struggle with the challenges of work-life balance. Technology, while it in many ways makes our life easier, also made it harder and more demanding as everything is now 24/7. At Marc Fisher, we are committed to continually implementing policies and benefits to make the work-life balance a little easier for our employees.”

What advice do you have for women asking for a raise or promotion?

“Do not be afraid to ask for what you want or what you think you deserve. But don’t think of this as a one-time event or something you get for showing up every day or being in your position for a long time. Rather, consider it as a strategy with benchmarks. Set up regular one-on-one meetings with your supervisor to set goals, and regularly communicate and evaluate your performance. By tracking your own performance and bringing analytics to the table, you will be able to better highlight your work and accomplishments and make a strong case for your promotion or raise.”

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